MEDIA RELEASE – 25.02.16
A coalition of organisations meeting in Sydney today have called for national action on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment and violence rates, following recent positive initiatives by governments in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The group includes leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, human rights and legal organisations.
Change the Record Coalition Co-Chair Shane Duffy said, “In the past few weeks, positive steps forward have been taken. We welcome for instance the inclusion of justice targets in the Northern Territory’s new Aboriginal Affairs Policy. We have long called for the development of national justice targets and it is important to see the Territory taking initiative in this area”.
“We also welcome a recent commitment by the Western Australian Government to work towards supporting prevention and diversion initiatives to keep people out of the criminal justice system in the first place. It was also encouraging to hear that Western Australian Government has expanded a support service for Aboriginal people in custody; however what is really needed is a commitment to fund and legislate for a ‘Custody Notification Service’, an independent and mandatory service administered by an Aboriginal community-controlled legal service.”
“Actions speak louder than words, and we remain deeply concerned by the ongoing impact of laws, such as mandatory sentencing and the Northern Territory’s Paperless Arrests scheme, which disproportionately impact upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
“It was also extremely distressing to hear reports from a Senate Inquiry last week that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, who are victims/survivors of domestic violence, have intentionally breached bail in order to go back to prison due to a lack of safe support services available in their communities”.
“Governments must translate their plans into tangible and meaningful action. This can only be achieved in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and community-controlled organisations,” said Mr Duffy.